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DPNR’s Dawn Henry Explains How Military Assault Rifles Could Have Been Easily Stolen From St. Croix Office In A Locked Case

UNDER FIRE: DPNR Commissioner Dawn Henry

In response to the Virgin Islands Daily News article, printed on Friday, April 7, 2017, captioned “Feds questioning $3.9M in grants to DPNR,” Commissioner Dawn L. Henry, Esq., of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources would like to clarify a few points:

The article stated that “It is unclear whether the firearms were properly secured in a locked storage unit”.  Commissioner Henry reassures the community that the weapons stolen from the Mars Hill Office were indeed stored in a 5 foot by 2 foot, 2-layered-steel locked Heritage safe.  All of the stolen weapons were since recovered and are in the custody of the Virgin Islands Police Department.

It should be noted that the U.S Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General’s Audit covered the period October 1, 2012, through September 30, 2014.  Under the Mapp/Potter Administration, the Division of Fish and Wildlife now thrives under the leadership of Director Ruth Gomez.  With new direction, the Division is producing demonstrable and significant improvements to include:

1)      In December 2015, the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) was successfully removed from high-risk designation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service(USFWS).

2)      The Division of Fish and Wildlife recovered over $3 million in funding from the USFWS which otherwise would have been lost.

3)      Nine fish aggregating devices have been deployed throughout the Territory since 2015.  Funding in the amount of $576,187 was also provided from USFWS.

4)      In October of 2016, DFW received over $647,733 from the USFWS to repair existing boat access facilities throughout the Territory to include the Frederiksted Fishermen’s Pier, Altoona Lagoon, Gallow’s Bay Dock, and the planning phase for Hull Bay in St. Thomas.

5)      DFW also received $93,522 to repair 22 transient moorings in Christmas Cove located in St. Thomas East End Reserve (STEER)

6)      $359,388 was received to conduct Aquatic education. This program is designed to provide students K-12 and residents of the VI with knowledge of our marine resources in the Virgin Islands.

7)      $444,392 was received from USFWS to conduct Hunter (Archery) education, training and safety classes.

After numerous discussions with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, DPNR drafted a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to the audit report. The US Fish and Wildlife service is pleased with the direction of the plan and the department has already begun implementation.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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